New charges have shoppers in the bag

PIC LISA FERGUSON  25/09/2014'Stock images - shopping, retail, carrier bags, plastic bags, shoppers, primark, h&m, superdrug, bhs, marks and spencer
PIC LISA FERGUSON 25/09/2014'Stock images - shopping, retail, carrier bags, plastic bags, shoppers, primark, h&m, superdrug, bhs, marks and spencer

Shoppers may think twice about accepting a carrier bag with their purchases after the introduction of a five pence levy.

All retailers - regardless of their size and what they sell - were expected to begin charging for single-use bags on Monday under laws drawn up by the Scottish Government.

The introduction of the charge is designed to slash the nation’s consumption of carrier bags, which is estimated at 800 million a year. Many of them invariably end up littering the streets or countryside or rotting in landfill.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Our carrier bag addiction is symptomatic of our throwaway culture and has serious implications for the environment.

“We want that to change and for people to stop and think about whether they really need to take another bag. Alternatives like bags for life are easy to get and are much more sustainable.”

Smaller shops and businesses employing fewer than ten staff are not required to keep a legal record of their carrier bag charges.

Council trading standards officers will be responsible for policing the new regulations.

Laurence Barratt, chief executive of Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, said: “This can only be a good thing for the environment - we are too much of a throwaway society.

“But the last thing any small business needs is to be audited on its bag usage.

“What is encouraging is that similar schemes have already been introduced in Wales and the Republic of Ireland, and have worked very well.”

Falkirk Herald readers on Facebook were broadly supportive of the new law, but Carolyn Rawding said: “I don’t think they should charge for paper bags that can be recycled.”